eVISA rejection of US citizen at Delhi-deported upon arrival

This post was removed from Trip Advisor.

Had filled everything out properly, with the exception of the pdf file pic of my passport being too fuzzy. After correcting the problem by going back to re-scan it with the proper proportions, my 3rd attempt to upload the correct size was met with an auto-response “already uploaded”. Would not let me upload again. Contacted the email link to the Indian gov to explain the complication, sending all documentation and the attached ‘correct’ pdf file size. Was rejected. Sensed that this was a small technical functionality error of the online form and assumed that I would be able to resolve it upon arrival. I was wrong.

Either over a bad mood or a sense of duty, this 2nd person called to my attention was discontent with my error in judgement. When yet a higher boss arrived, the rigid man explained the situation in an accusatory tone, inciting his boss with his tone of condemnation. The boss gave me 15 min. to decide where to go and book the flight. No WiFi, only a laptop, he sent a guy with his phone to relay the wifi. Having taken time to deliberate what should be my next move, I hadn’t yet booked a flight to Nepal, which according to them accepts ‘visa upon arrival’; figured it was the closest place where I intended to go anyway. When I hadn’t yet booked this flight within the 15 minutes (literally), I was told I was being sent back to my departure point, Frankfurt, Germany. The particular person who was assigned to accompany me to the gate, holding my passport, was a young friendly guy, who asked if I was on FB and I’d given him my card to check out my blogs. In other words, it can be a matter of who is working that day or night, and this was a late arrival, maybe these guys were getting tired and cranky, annoyed that they work on the night shift and perhaps get points for doing their duty to the T. Was treated kindly by the crew of Kuwait Airways, and basically upon being deported, was told I wouldn’t have to pay for the flight. The 2nd leg of the flight- a 777- the jet was a quarter empty. I was pretty surprised that this occurred but wasn’t putting up any argument. I assumed that a single, white, kind female from the States with no record, would have no problem negotiating. Wow, not so.

There wasn’t a great deal of diplomacy among the Indian staff, felt like I was being scolded. So much for attempting a bold adventure as a budget traveler who already had lined up my first stopping point and investigated train travel, street smart travel information about what to avoid, had investigated what electronics I would need; adapter, that the French power surge protector would work with 240 V. and that I would get a voltage regulator in addition. Excited for my first exploration of Asia, east of Eastern Europe. Had lined up my first workaway host and worked out the transport from the Delhi airport to the necessary train connections, timetables to Rajasthan. Had even found a pretty cool map that alerts one to pollution levels real-time, internationally. Intention was to be in nature, learn their culture, intent to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary or elephant village. Love nature and life, don’t love the way humans alienate one another. I’ll be commenting about my immigration problems in Frankfurt Germany shortly, which felt an awful lot like extortion-using intimidation, power and the perfect circumstances to leverage authority and extract large sums of money. 🙂

US citizen departing Frankfurt airport, forced by immigration to pay €1,000 cash, for a fine that accrued interest over 5 years, for not paying a €2.50 U-Bahn public transport ticket

I originally posted this last night on Trip Advisor, however it was deemed not appropriate, and removed.

US citizen departing Frankfurt airport forced by immigration to pay €1,000 cash, for a fine that accrued interest over 5 years, for not paying a €2.50 U-Bahn public transport ticket

Arriving at the Frankfurt airport in time to investigate duty free electronic stores for an electrical adapter and voltage swing protector, I was halted by a 25 year old officer who, observing his computer screen unsmilingly, asked in German something a train in Berlin. I lived there years earlier, and I figured that he was alluding to a time I was caught on the U-Bahn without a ticket, 3, 5 or 7 years ago. Having left the country abruptly right before Christmas 2012, I wasn’t aware that this was accruing interest. I guess in our electronic world in which these records endure, they weren’t able to contact me by email to inform me, that would have been to, uh, sophisticated.

I explained in my best German that I hadn’t been living in the country, and in fact can prove with residence and employment records where I’ve been living the last few years. This information was disregarded. He would not listen to any explanation. I was treated with hostility, almost aggression. I guess that being a frugal artist/writer and enjoying pouring time into creativity is not permissible, in a world that is looking one-dimensionally in terms of the GDP instead of quality. The officer walked into a room among 6 or so other colleagues and to my astonishment, through the glass wall I saw him laughing and smirking. Towards me he was cold and threatening, using intimidation. He told me I either must hand him €1,000 in cash from the ATM, conveniently located several yards away, or go to jail for 15 days. So the fine for riding without a €2.50 train ticket, rose with interest through the years to an easy, rounded number of €1,000. Since then I discovered that with the exchange rate to USD and $66 transaction fee at that ATM and additional $39 foreign transaction fee at this same ATM, added up to costing 1,431.19 USD. As I watched them laughing with one another,  I took a photograph. Another young officer dashed out of the office at first demanding my phone, and receded when I deleted it before him. Considering the fact that the other option was jail (which I would have done as the frugal artist that I am), it isn’t really an option. It’s like complete coercion. The traveler has no choice. When one has planned, prepared and paid for an anticipated travel, it’s sort of the perfect situation to extract this money with ease. Extortion was the word that came to mind; using intimidation and authority in circumstances that almost 99.99% of the time passengers would prefer to hand over the requested exorbitant amount of cash. Little alternative, in addition to paying for an eTicket and Indian eVISA. I was ultimately deported, for a pdf file of my passport being fuzzy, due to the fact that it was initially scanned improperly at the copy shop, and I hadn’t stated the 1st time what dimensions it needed to be, another language barrier and naiveté on my part. I was making this trip to ultimately follow my passion, complete a book I’m writing and to continue to write blogs, compose music…Poverty is punished in the modern world of globalization and finance. So the budget traveler with 2 small backpacks, sleeping bag and intention to volunteer with elephants and do work/living exchanges with people through workaway, now is $2,000 dollars in debt. And absolutely delighted with the experience I had with charming and bright people who enriched my world through our conversations and realizing that resilience and value of experience over material acquisition, is of great value. Appreciation of all of the nuances that life offers and value of the natural wonders of the world, made for a delightful trip of 7 days of travel for a 1.5 hour visit to India. 🙂 Delhi was intoxicatingly polluted, with 12 foot visibility. So nice that our world opts for measuring worth with the GDP, as we ruin the planet, are filled with fear and fueled with a desire to extract and consume, rather than to protect and strive for a harmonious relationship with the earth and all life. Just sayin’.